Senator Proos Touts 21 New Human Trafficking Laws

Human TraffickingWSJM – Radio

New protections are now in place in Michigan for victims and survivors of human trafficking. Governor Snyder has recently enacted 21 new laws, with three of the bills sponsored by Senator John Proos of St. Joseph. He says the I-94 corridor is among the most active routes for traffickers.

Among the provisions of the new laws are the creation of the Human Trafficking Victims Compensation Act. That act will make survivors eligible for financial compensation from those who trafficked them, and the survivors will also now be allowed to sue their captors. Another part of the new law gives survivors better access to medical and psychological care. Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force founder Cathy Knauf says it’s modern day slavery and is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the country. For total crimes, trafficking trails only drugs and guns.

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Michigan Diplomas Could be First in U.S. for STEM Certification

WNDU-TV

Proos CTELegislation sponsored by Sen. John Proos and Rep. Amanda Price would help give Michigan students a leg up on getting a job in a high-skilled career or continuing their education.

Senate Bills 1109 and 1110 and House Bills 5904 and 5905 would allow a student to receive a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) certification on their high school diploma. The STEM endorsement would also be visible on student transcripts for future technical training, community college and college application review.

“This initiative is the next step in ensuring that we are doing all we can to help prepare all Michigan students for success and also meet the skilled workforce needs of a growing economy,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “The governor recently signed my legislation to strongly encourage schools to establish programs that award credit toward a college degree or an industry-recognized professional certificate – giving students on-the-job training. Putting this certification on a student’s diploma and transcript will help improve their college resume and their chances to land a well-paying job.”

According to Proos and Price, if the bills are enacted, Michigan would be the first state in the United States to institute such a STEM certification opportunity.

“The Legislature has worked hard to ensure that our students can pursue their own career opportunities in high school and beyond, because we recognize that education is not one-size-fits-all,” said Price, R-Park Township. “By giving students the option to pursue this certification on their high school diplomas, we are helping them take the next step in their educational careers and encouraging them to pursue their own brighter futures.”

Gov. Rick Snyder has repeatedly called for an increased focus on STEM education in Michigan schools — objectives advocated by Proos and Price.

Proos’ bill, now Public Act 288 of 2014, requires the Department of Education to post online information on how schools can work with local businesses, public-private partnerships, trade organizations, universities and community colleges to provide quality STEM education.

“I recently celebrated the second-annual Manufacturing Day with local business leaders and students to recognize area manufacturers for their innovation and growth,” Proos said. “They are expanding and creating jobs, and they support increased efforts to help students earn the training needed to fill thousands of positions currently available in Southwest Michigan.”

Last year, Proos sponsored Senate Resolution 90 declaring Oct. 4, 2013 as Michigan Manufacturers Day. This year’s Manufacturing Day event was held on Oct. 3 at Mach Mold in Benton Harbor and offered an opportunity for lawmakers to interact with area manufacturing leaders about the industry.

SBs 1109 and 1110 and HBs 5904 and 5905 will be formally introduced and referred to their respective committees when the Legislature returns to session.

Career Training Will Help Students be Job-Ready

Proos_Average JoesThousands of Michigan jobs remain unfilled because employers cannot find enough skilled workers. To help meet this workforce need, Gov. Rick Snyder has called for an increased focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in our schools.

I am strong supporter of STEM and career and technical education (CTE) because applied learning done in coordination with public-private partnerships and STEM education can help prepare children for success and also meet the workforce needs of a growing economy.

Recently, my bill to connect unfilled jobs with classroom education and training was unanimously approved and sent to the governor to be signed.

Senate Bill 66 allows for the sharing of information between schools and businesses with workforce needs and provides students and parents with information on CTE opportunities.

The Department of Education would be required to provide CTE course information to schools and post online about CTE best practices from around Michigan and the country.

The department will also post online details on how CTE courses can be used to fulfill the state’s high school graduation requirements; information on successful CTE programs; and information on how schools can work with local businesses, public-private partnerships, trade organizations, universities and community colleges to provide quality CTE.

Applied learning is most effective when students who complete the courses are job-ready. That is why the bill also urges schools to establish programs that award credit toward a college degree or a professional certificate – giving students on-the-job training.

State Senator John Proos Talks Education Funding

WKZO – Radio

Roeders ClassThe Michigan legislature may be currently in session, but lawmakers are also traveling around their districts preparing for the November elections. State Senator John Proos says he’s noticed that, as the campaigns heat up, the issue of education funding seems to be the one that everyone’s talking about the most. He told WKZO that state lawmakers have, in fact, been investing in education over the past couple of years, despite what some claim.

“If you just look at the numbers for spending in Michigan, we were spending about 12.1 billion dollars on K through 12 education in 2010,” Proos told WKZO. “Today, since 2010, we are now at 13.1 billion dollars in education.”

Proos said that doesn’t sound to him like education spending in Michigan has been cut, adding that education accounts for nearly half of the state’s budget.

Proos notes that there are a few things the legislature’s managed to get done ahead of taking a break for the elections. He points to a bill that would let patients of terminal illnesses in Michigan try experimental treatments, as well as a recent slew of bills on human trafficking, as matters that have been addressed in just the past week.

Proos: New Law Allows Residents to Taste, Buy Local Wines at Michigan Farmers Market

WineWNDU-TV

Sen. John Proos is reminding residents and wine connoisseurs that new laws now allow small winemakers to offer tastings and sell wine at Michigan farmers markets.

“Winemaking is a thriving industry in Southwest Michigan that employs thousands of residents, and this year our local communities can now support startup winemakers at the local farmers market,” said Proos, who co-sponsored the reform. “I have long been a strong supporter of Michigan’s farmers markets because they directly connect consumers with local growers and producers. Now, residents can have this same connection with our local startup winemakers.”

Senate Bill 79, now Public Act 100 of 2013, enables winemakers who produce up to 5,000 gallons of wine per year to purchase a new farmers market permit.

The new law also adds small winemakers who hold a farmers market permit and are selling their wine at a farmers market to the list of individuals who can sell wine at retail.

“Southwest Michigan’s position along Lake Michigan and our climate makes the region ideal for producing a wide variety of unique and flavorful wines,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “Allowing small-volume area winemakers to reach new customers is about promoting a growing industry and encouraging small business entrepreneurship in Michigan, which is vital to long-term economic growth.

“Michigan has more than 100 wineries offering a taste of Pure Michigan, and our wine and grape industries also contribute more than $800 million annually to the state’s economy.”

Proos has a list of local farmers markets on his Senate website at SenatorJohnProos.com and under “Find a Farmers Market Near You.”

Residents can also find a farmers market anywhere in Michigan by using an online tool on the Michigan Farmers Market Association page. Visit www.mifma.org and click on “Find a Farmers Market.”

New Laws Will Help Veterans Entering the Workforce

VeteransAmerica is the land of the free because we are the home of the brave. Let us never forget that we owe our liberty to the courageous men and women in uniform who put their country before themselves.

Unfortunately, when our veterans return home they often face real challenges transitioning into civilian life and into new careers.

I was proud to support common sense reforms to help our veterans find work here at home by removing unnecessary barriers to getting a job in Michigan.

Beginning in late August, honorably discharged veterans will be able to take advantage of new laws designed to assist them entering the workforce in certain professions.

Public Act 127 of 2014 requires the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to waive the license or initial registration fee for honorably discharged veterans in certain fields. The change applies to several occupations, such as barbers, public accountants, foresters, architects, community planners, funeral directors and residential builders.

PA 128 waives the same fees for honorably discharged veterans who apply for licensure as a private security guard or to become a member of a private security guard business.

These new laws are part of our continued effort to increase veterans assistance. They build on already enacted reforms from 2013 that recognized that military training is rigorous and tough and worthy of counting toward comparable jobs in the civilian workforce.

Those measures allow certain military training and experience of honorably discharged veterans to be counted for purposes of professional licensure as an emergency medical technician, firefighter, boiler operator and stationary engineer, mechanical contractor, and residential builder.

The enormous sacrifice and selfless dedication of our veterans and their families is a debt we can never fully repay. However, these reforms are a real, meaningful way to express our appreciation for the service of our veterans and to do something that is good for the entire state — our veterans, our local communities and our economy.

Announcing my Bid for Re-Election to the State Senate in Michigan’s Great Southwest

Proos_Dowagiac DailyEarlier today I announced my candidacy for the 21st Michigan State Senate seat in Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph counties.
Michigan is turning around, but I believe there is more work to be done to put Michigan back on solid footing.  I will continue to focus my efforts on creating an environment that fosters jobs for our families, welcoming new businesses and investing in a world class education system to prepare our children to fill the economic opportunities right here in Southwest Michigan.

The 21st State Senate district will change after the 2014 election from the counties of Van Buren, Cass and Berrien to Berrien, Cass and St. Joseph.

I would like to earn the support and vote of individuals and families in Southwest Michigan as I continue to fight for the common-sense values we hold dear.  Vital to the success of Southwest Michigan and our families are the expansion of infrastructure through broadband networks, ensuring the safety of our communities through proper funding of police and fire services and protecting our precious natural resources.
I ask for your support in Michigan’s primary election on August 5th, 2014 and in the general election, November 4, 2014.
Some of the first term initiatives that I have been proud to work on include:

•    Working to eliminate the fraud waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars, finding efficiencies totaling about 120 million dollars.
•    Improving access to career and technical education for our students through legislation to facilitate flow of information between students, families, schools, the Department of Education, community organizations and businesses.
•    Instituting new point-of-sale computer system designed to stop meth dealers from buying large amounts of ephedrine/pseudoephedrine at pharmacies.
•    Initiating the first proposal to fund our roads since John Engler was Governor.  My legislation dedicated $100 million of unallocated sales tax money, already paid at the gas pump toward Michigan’s infrastructure.
•    Sponsoring legislation to rehabilitate criminals before they are huge expense to society through the swift and sure program available to county courts.
•    Facilitated a new program to connect hunters with farmers looking to protect their land from crop damage.
•    Pushing to give Michigan businesses priority in applying for state contracts whenever possible.
•    Supports the eradication of invasive species from our precious natural resources.

During my tenure in the state legislature I have served over 9,000 individuals, families and businesses in Southwest Michigan who have asked for assistance.  I consider the ability to help so many cut through government red tape as one of my greatest accomplishments.